A Letter to my 16 Year Old Self: by Eleanor

A Letter to my 16 Year Old Self by Eleanor

(image: E Mandelstam)

A Letter to my 16 Year Old Self by Eleanor

(image: Me aged 16/17 in Spain with friends)

She sits nervously clutching her GHD straightened hair. Its meant to look poker straight but her curly waves never seem to look like Avril Lavigne’s hair. Except for that time when her friend tried to tame it for her with straighteners and an iron!

She lives in a bedroom in the family home- half child, half adult, the wallpaper pink with pictures of little bo peep covered with music posters- Destiny’s Child (Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle in their Survivor jungle outfits peer down) and Joss Stone with her nose piercing. She looks up to these women and wishes she could be them, especially Joss, who is only a year or so older than she is. Mariah Carey is another huge influence and she listens to her Daydream and Greatest hits albums on repeat on her CD player, trying to sing like Mariah but failing to hit those notes.

At school, she loves Drama- she loves to perform as different characters and study theatre. She has a wonderful group of friends who she will remain friends with today. She dreams of going to drama school.. and she will achieve her goal!

She is me, aged 16 years old in 2004.

She is ‘baby Ellie’- the teenager who had no idea what was in store for her life or to come. Who should have been free to party, make mistakes, not worry about life. Who should have been discovering life safely but enjoying teen life.

She was given the diagnosis of a severe mental illness, bipolar disorder, when she was still a child.

She struggled with depression, mania and psychosis from the age of 15.

She has been medicated for 19 years (and had changes of medication).

She has been in therapy for longer.

but she survived and thrived.

And she still loves theatre and music and friends (although the GHD’s have been relegated to the back of the cupboard!)

So dear Baby Ellie,

Whatever happens – everything is going to be OK and you will achieve things beyond your imagination- except being able to sing like Mariah Carey.

When I look back at her, I hear the lyrics of the song ‘Looking in’ on Mariah’s day dream album that I used to play….

1692797377 226 A Letter to my 16 Year Old Self by Eleanor

(image by me, lyrics by Mariah).

But I am proud of her.


35 Year old Me.


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